Every year I am lucky enough to be asked by George Little Management, who puts on National Stationery Show (now a part of signature mix marketplace) to be part of their educational program of seminars. For the past few years I’ve moderated a panel of experts on various topics of interest — and 2014 will be no different.

Before I talk about mine, I should mention a few others. The speaker line-up includes Leatrice Eiseman, executive director, Pantone Color Institute. Lee originates the Pantone Color of the Year each year, and her visual presentations are fascinating — and you won’t look at color quite the same way afterwards. There’s also presentations from: Emily Bidwell, co-lead, Etsy’s Merchandising Team, on what’s hot in the world of independent creativity; Will Palley, Trends Strategist, JWT, will discuss the The Future of Correspondence, examining the rise of slow communication, the fusion of digital and physical, and what’s driving these trends; and Caroline Kennedy — who taught me the industry ropes when I was at Gifts & Decorative Accessories and now is its editor-in-chief — will moderate a panel of retailers who will advise on how to create memorable customer experiences.

My panel will be on Monday, May 19, at 2:00 pm, and is called Top Reps Reveal What’s Trending Now. My panel hails from all around the country: Carina Murray is the founder of Crow & Canary and covers the NW & NE territories (and is also a NSS exhibitor); Dan Collier is the principal, daniel*richards, with showrooms in Atlanta, Dallas & Chicago;  Lynn Mitchell is owner of the Lynn Mitchell Group, having an LA showroom; and Yvonne Boatner is principal of Paper Trends, covering Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

We’ll be discussing what’s trending in each region of the country, talk about their up-and-coming lines, share what they’ve seen on the show floor that excites them, and examine their strategies for identifying product and design trends that keep their lines – and yours – fresh. It should be a lot of fun — and I’m reaching out to TPC readers to see if they have any questions they’d like brought up, regardless of the industry role they play.

A designer may wonder what elements reps look for in lines they take on, while a retailer may be wanting to know how reps help tailor trends to each store’s distinctive clientele. But I want to get your thoughts on this — you can leave them in the comments below or email me at sarah@thepaperchronicles.com. And, if you are interested in attending my seminar, or any of those mentioned above, you can sign up here.

These images, by the way, are from the standing room-only seminar I moderated last year, Blogging & Social Media Secrets to Success, featuring amazing retailers discussing how they successfully use their blogs and social-media pages to promote their stores and connect with customers. My panel consisted of Lisa Mattison Roberts, Rock Paper Scissors; Holly Bretschneider, Salutations; Grace Kang, Pink Olive; and Audrey Woollen from Urbanic. I have to say, it is so rewarding and insightful for me to get to interact with both the panel and attendees — and I’m expecting this year’s to be no different!

Special thanks to GLM and Audrey for sending me these great images!

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